Things you need to know about Akagera national park
Things you need to know about Akagera national park- Akagera national park is located on the northeastern side of Rwanda in a district called Kayonza which is about 110km from Kigali city. Getting to Akagera national park takes 1 day and it takes 2-3 hours to reach the park using road transport from Kigali international airport or Kigali city.
Akagera national park was gazetted in 1934 to protect the wild animals that were living in the area by that time. When the 1994 Rwanda Genocide happened most of the survivors moved and settle in the areas around Akagera national park and this led to the clearing of land for settlements and food. Most of the park animals were killed for meat and others died due to lack of food.
Akagera national park was gazetted again in 2009 to protect a large population of animals and this time it was all fenced to avoid intruders and tress passers. As of today, the park protects the highest number of animals in Rwanda such as lions, elephants, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, etc. as well as over 400 bird species.
What makes Akagera national park famous?
Akagera national park is the only national park in a small country in Rwanda with the big 5 mammals and over 1000 large mammals. The big 5 mammals of Akagera national park include lions, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, and elephants. Akagera national park is also the only savannah national park in Rwanda. It used to be the hog of wild dogs until the outbreak of a disease that killed most of them.
About attractions in Akagera national park
Akagera national park is home to a huge population of different wild animals that are found nowhere in Rwanda apart from this park. Akagera national park comprises savannah vegetation, swamps, and montane type of vegetation where the animals of the park have found their homes.
Animals in Akagera national park include buffaloes, cheetahs, lions, impalas, reedbucks, bushbucks, spotted hyenas, elephants, impalas, elephants, topis, waterbucks, roan antelopes, zebras, rhinos, klipspringers, cape elands, olive baboons, and vervet monkeys to mention but a few. To spot all the animals of Akagera national park, you will have to do a game drive with a good safari vehicle in the morning or in the evening with an armed ranger guide.
Akagera national park in Rwanda is listed among the best birding areas in the country with over 400 bird species that have been so far recorded in the park. The birds of Akagera national park have found their homes in the savannah vegetation as well as swamps around the lakes within the park. Tourists that want to spot as many birds as they can visit Akagera national park in the northeastern part of Rwanda.
The bird species in Akagera national park include Papyrus gonolek, souza’s shrike, African rock pigeon, grey-backed fiscal, northern fiscal, African openbill stork, little bee-eater, helmeted guinea fowl, woodland kingfisher, booted eagle, cardinal woodpecker, long created eagle, red-billed fire finch, saddle-billed stork, crowned lapwing, marabou stork, eastern grey plantain eater, blue checked bee-eater, western reef heron, ross’s turaco, spur-winged goose, lesser striped swallow, African darter, crested barbet, cattle egret, black-headed weaver, grey-backed fiscal, palm nut vulture, hamerkop, and common squacco heron among others.
Other notable bird species in Akagera national park include the Shoebill stork, Denham’s bustard, crowned lapwing, African Wattled Plover, woodland kingfisher, eastern grey plantain-eater, white-browed coucal, white-faced whistling duck, black-headed weaver, great egret, short-tailed pipit, white-backed vultures, yellow-bellied eremomela, lilac-breasted roller, grey crowned crane, long-tailed cormorant, sooty falcon, white-browed coucal, stripped pipit, saddle-billed stork, palm-nut vulture, viellot’s black weavers, African grey hornbill, goliath heron, pin tailed whydah, African jacana, and much more.
Akagera national park hosts over 7 lakes that are spread in different areas of the park. The lakes in Akagera national park include Lake Shakani, Lake Ihema, Lake Malindi, Lake Hago, Lake Kivumba, Lake Gishanju, and Lake Rwanyakazinga. There are different activities done on each of the lakes in Akagera national park.
The most famous lake in Akagera national park is Ihema which is located in the southern part of the park. the lake is where the amazing boat cruises are done and these are done in the morning and evening hours for 2-3 hours with opportunities of meeting different water animals and bird species.
There is also another popular lake in Akagera national park called Shakani because this is where sportfishing is done. The lake is located on the northeastern side of Akagera national park headquarters on the edge of the southern sector of the park. Sportfishing on Lake Shakani gives you an opportunity to encounter some water animals, birds and catch some of the fish species like tilapia and catfish.
There are several communities around Akagera national park where tourists can go and interact with the local people. One of the communities around Akagera national park includes Humure Refuge Village where most of the people are cattle keepers. A visit to this will village will give you an opportunity to interact with these people, know how they live their life, watch them do day to day activities, be part of food preparation, taste their local foods and drinks, visit local art and craft shops, and in the end get entertainment from traditional dancers.
Accommodation facilities in Akagera national park
Tourists that are to spend some nights in Akagera national park have several accommodation facilities available for them to spend nights. The accommodation facilities in Akagera national park are categorized as budget, mid-range, and luxury options and they include Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, Karenge Bush Camp, Magashi Safari Camp, Akarenge Game Lodge, Magashi Tented Camp, Ruzizi Tented Camp, Akagera Resort, and Country Club, Vintage Cottages, Akarenge Game Lodge, Nyagasambu Real Beach Hotel Akagera Rhino Lodge among others
How to get to Akagera national park
Tourists from outside Rwanda will have to fly to Kigali international airport and then drive to the northeastern part of the country to Kayonza district and this might take 2-3 hours. On reaching Akagera national park they will use the southern gate in Rwamagana town which acts as the entry point to the park. There are also flights from Kigali international airport to Akagera national park using Akagera Aviation.
Best time to visit Akagera national park
After understanding the things you need to know about Akagera national park, tourists can visit Akagera at any time of the year but the drier months are the best for most of the activities within the park. the drier months occur in June to September and December to February and the area is characterized by little or no rainfall which leaves the game trucks dry, the vegetation in the park is always short giving clear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Travelers might still visit Akagera national park in the rainy season to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities and maybe those that want to carry out birding activities since most of the birds are within the park due to plenty of food including the migratory ones. However, during the dry season that occurs from March to May and October to November, there is plenty of rainfall which makes the trekking trials less muddy, the vegetation in the park is tall hence unclear views of park animals, and the roads leading to the park are impassable.